Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup

Mmm…warm, rich, and flavorful Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup. I can already smell it cooking, and I haven’t even opened the pantry door yet!

I just love all the bright and beautiful colors in this ham and bean soup!

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup in an Instant Pot?

Ham and bean soup, made in an instant pot is just too easy! You’ll need a few simple ingredients (described below). Throw it all in the pot, turn it on for six minutes, and bring the pot to pressure. Once the cooking time is done, quick release the pressure, and you’re done!

What is Ham Hock and Bean Soup?

Ham hock and bean soup is just what the name indicates. It’s the same as ham and bean soup, only the ham is left out and the ham hock is added in.

The ham hock is kind of like the ankle of the pig. It’s the joint where the leg connects to the foot. There’s very little meat in that joint…it’s mostly fat and connective tissue. The ham hock is usually smoked, so it imparts some of the same flavor as a ham bone. The big difference is that the smoked ham hock will need to be slow cooked over medium heat for a long time, or pressure cooked in the instant pot for about an hour, to make the meat tender.

If you want to use ham hock to make this soup, cook the ham hock first, before adding the other ingredients in this recipe.

What is Your Favorite Recipe for Smoked Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup?

My favorite recipe for smoked ham and great northern bean soup calls for:

  • canned or leftover smoked ham from a ham shank (including the bone, if it is available)
  • canned Northern White Beans
  • canned cannellini beans
  • canned red beans
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • bay leaves
  • carrots
  • celery
  • chicken stock

Once you’ve got all the ingredients ready, just put them all in the instant pot and close the lid. It will only need to cook for 6 minutes, then you can quick release the pressure, and your meal is ready!

How Do I Make Bean Soup with a Ham Bone?

If you want to make bean soup with a ham bone, you can do one of two things:

  1. Use the leftover ham bone from a ham that you have eaten.
  2. Go to the grocery store and buy a ham bone (these may not be always available in small grocery stores).

Go ahead and make sure that the ham bone will fit into your instant pot. Then add the broth and the ham bone, and then all the other ingredients. If you put all the other ingredients in first, the ham bone may not fit. Then just cook according to the recipe, below. If you’d like to jump directly to that recipe, just scroll down to the bottom of this post.

How do You add Flavor to Ham and Bean Soup?

This is what I use to add flavor to my ham and bean soup recipe:

  • Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth (low-sodium chicken broth can be substituted)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Bay Leaves
  • Celery
  • Carrots

You could also use some of these optional items (or whatever you think would taste good):

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Smoke Sauce
  • Worcestershire
  • A tiny bit of Vinegar or Lemon
  • Red Cooking Wine
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Whole Jalapeno
  • Whole Okra (added after pressure cooking and removed before serving–it will only add flavor)
  • A pinch of Ground Cinnamon
  • Fresh Thyme

The onions and garlic may release more flavor if you saute them.

How do I Thicken Up Home-made Ham and Bean Soup?

There are a number of ways you can thicken home-made ham and bean soup:

  • The most tried and true method of thickening your home-made ham and bean soup is to add some flour or cornstarch. Just put a couple of tablespoons of either flour or cornstarch into a small bowl or cup. Add a small amount of cool water and stir. Continue adding water until the mixture is the consistency of peanut butter, making sure that there are no lumps. Then add additional water, to make the mixture easy to pour. Gradually add the mixture to your soup and stir. If your soup gets too thick, add a little more chicken broth or stock to thin it to your preferred state.
  • If you like the flavor of tomatoes, you can add fresh tomatoes and/or canned tomato paste to thicken your home-made ham and bean soup. Just slice or dice your tomatoes and pour into the soup, or open a can of tomato paste and stir it in.
  • Vegetables, or a mixture of vegetables can be pre-cooked on the stove top or in your instant pot and pureed to use to thicken your soup. Just boil the veggies in your soup pot over medium-high heat and cool completely, then add them to your blender or food processor, puree and add to your soup. Starchy vegetables will work best. Some ideas include:
    • Beans
    • Cauliflower
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Mushrooms
    • Potatoes

Should I Thicken Ham and Bean Soup?

My preference is to have a relatively thin juice in my ham and bean soup. That doesn’t mean it should be like water, but I don’t want it to be thick as gravy, either. I like it about the same consistency as you would get from a can of tomato soup with a half can of milk or water added to it.

But the decision is up to you. If you prefer it to be thin, then don’t add any thickeners. However, if you prefer it to be super thick, then add more thickeners. Just make it the way you like it!

What are Northern Beans?

Northern beans are a small white bean that is popular throughout North America. The northern beans have a delicate flavor, and are used in soups, stews, and casseroles. When properly cooked, they are tender and savory. They also work well as a side dish to many entrees. Some meals that would be improved by a side dish of northern beans include, but are not limited to:

Are Navy Beans and Great Northern Beans the Same?

Navy beans and great northern beans are not the same. Both beans are white, and have a mild flavor, but Navy beans are the smallest of these two types of white beans. Boston baked beans, Navy Bean Chowder, and Louisiana-style white beans and rice are usually made with Navy beans. Why are they called Navy beans you ask? Well, because the United States Navy used them as a staple in their food pantry in the early 1900s.

Navy beans, which are high in protein and fiber, have a tendency to cook quickly and get creamy, whereas the larger Great Northern beans have a mild and nutty flavor with a firm yet tender texture. If you’re looking for a bean that will hold its shape and take on the flavor of the food its cooked with, look no farther than the Great Northern beans. French cassoulet recipes often call for Great Northern Beans, and they are a great addition to soups and stews.

How do You Rescue Bland Bean Soup?

Bland is just incongruous with bean soup, especially if you have added ham. You could start by adding a bit of salt, if the soup doesn’t already taste salty. Then you can move on to adding any number of additional seasonings, such as:

  • Bacon (pre-cooked)
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cinnamon, ground (just a pinch)
  • Garlic
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Jalapeno (whole or sliced, depending on how spicy you want your soup to be)
  • Onion Powder
  • Onions (chopped)
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Red Cooking Wine
  • Sausage
  • Smoke Sauce
  • Thyme
  • Vinegar or Lemon (just a tiny bit of one or the other)
  • Worcestershire

You should stick with seasonings that are appetizing to you, and add just a bit of any one of them at a time. You can continue to simmer, stir, and taste the mixture, until you’ve reached a flavor that is pleasing to you.

What can I do If My Soup is Too Watery?

That’s a tricky question. There are a couple of situations that can be described as “too watery”:

  1. The soup has too much juice, and not enough solid bits in it.
  2. The juice of the soup is just too thin, and needs to be thickened.

If your soup just has too much juice, you can either pour some of the juice off it, or add more solid bits. Ham and bean soup can always do with some extra beans, celery, and carrots.

If the juice of the soup needs to be thickened, you can use a thickener, such as:

  • Cornstarch
  • Flour
  • Additional veggies that you have boiled (or otherwise cooked), let cool, and pureed.

Do You Add Flour to Ham and Beans?

Flour can be added to ham and beans as a thickener. If your ham and beans are already thick enough because you have:

  • cooked it down and reduced the stock to a thickness that you like,
  • added pureed veggies, or
  • added cornstarch,

there is no need to add flour.

Do You Have to Soak Beans for Ham and Beans?

Whether or not you soak dried beans is up to you. If you do decide to soak the beans, be sure to rinse them well, and leave them in the refrigerator while soaking. Some of the advantages of soaking beans before cooking them are:

  • Adding salt to the water that you soak your beans in will allow the beans to soak up not only the water, but some of the salt as well. This will improve the ultimate flavor of the cooked beans.
  • The salt will also make the skin of the beans more tender as they are cooked.
  • Pre-soaking the beans will make them cook more quickly.
  • Some studies show that pre-soaking beans for 4 to 12 hours, then pouring off the excess water, will make them cause less flatulence.

However, if you use canned beans, as called for in this recipe, you will not need to do any soaking.

What to Serve with Ham and Bean Soup?

Well, there must be a million and one things you can serve with ham and bean soup.

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup in a Crock Pot?

This instant pot recipe can easily be converted to a crock pot recipe. Just put all the ingredients into your slow cooker, and cook on low for approximately 4 hours, or until the carrots and celery are tender.

Can Ham and Bean Soup be Frozen?

Ham and bean soup can be frozen. After the soup is completely cooked and cooled, just place it in an airtight container, and place in the freezer. It should keep for about 3 months. If you want to freeze some of your soup, you might think about making a double batch! There are rarely any leftovers in our house.

What Wine Goes with Ham and Bean Soup?

Because ham and bean soup has a lot of robust flavor, a bold red wine would be quite complementary. A Cabernet Sauvignon would be a perfect choice. You might like something a little lighter, like a Merlot or Pinot Noir. The choice is yours. The best wine for any food is the wine that you like best.

Can I make Ham and Bean Soup Without a Bone?

Yes, you can make ham and bean soup without a bone. All you need is some cubed ham. I like to make ham and bean soup with the leftovers of a ham that my family has eaten. While the bone adds some flavor of its own, it is not strictly necessary for the soup.

Can Diabetics Eat Ham and Bean Soup?

This recipe is made with lean ham and great northern white beans. The ham and the beans are high in protein, and the great northern beans are also high in fiber. Additionally, the celery and carrots are also high fiber vegetables. So, a diabetic could most certainly eat this soup!

What are Some Good Recipes for Leftover Ham Other than Scalloped Potatoes or Bean Soup?

Here are a few ideas for using leftover ham:

Ham and Bean Soup

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz. can Great Northern White Beans
  • 1 16 oz. can Cannellini Beans
  • 1 16 oz. can Red Beans
  • 1 cup Chicken Bullion (prepared) Chicken broth or chicken stock can be substituted.
  • 3 cups Water
  • 3 lbs Ham, cubed Canned, smoked, or glazed ham will work.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups Sliced Carrots
  • 1 cup Diced Celery

Instructions

  1. Slice the carrots.

  2. Dice the celery.

  3. Prepare the chicken bullion.

  4. Cube the ham.

  5. Place all ingredients in your instant pot, and set it to pressure cook for 5 minutes.

  6. When the cooking time is finished, quick-release the pressure in the instant pot.

  7. Serve and enjoy!

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